Gary Layne Smith, a native of Dayton Ohio, graduated from nearby Bellbrook High School in 1971 and subsequently joined the U.S. Air Force as an enlisted airman. He received a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) in San Marcos, Texas in 1980. He obtained a Master of Divinity graduate degree in 1984 from Brite Divinity School, with an emphasis on Pastoral Counseling.Gary served as the Youth Minister at University United Methodist Church in Ft. Worth, Texas from 1981 to 1984 while attending seminary. He was ordained as a minister in 1984 in the Disciples of Christ Church in San Marcos, Texas (where he was previously Director of Youth Ministries while in undergraduate school). Gary then served as Minister of Evangelism at William C. Martin United Methodist Church in Bedford, Texas in 1984 and 1985, a period of explosive growth for that church.
From 1985 to 2003, as an Air Force Chaplain, Lieutenant Colonel Smith served Christian congregations around the world, experiencing many special ministry moments: flying weekly for four years as a Chaplain with the B-52 and KC-135 crews; skydiving with the Air Force Academy Collegiate Skydiving Team on a Sunday morning just prior to preaching a sermon entitled “Ponderings of a Plummeting Preacher”; teaching as a faculty member at the Air Force University for three years; serving as campus minister for 30,000 Keesler Air Force Base students and last but not least for Gary, representing the Air Force at the historic 1999 All-Star game with his then teenage daughter, Amity, at Boston’s Fenway Park baseball stadium.
In 1991, Gary graduated first in a class of 604 officers in an Air Force leadership development school (Squadron Officer’s School). In 1993 and 1995, Abington Press published Gary’s sermons as a devotional series, receiving the highest positive feedback on record from readers around the country. Colonel Smith was also a speech writer for the Air Force Chief of Chaplains and for the former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Dr. David Sampson.
After 31 years of service to his country (7 years enlisted, 5 years in the reserves, 19 years as a Chaplain), Colonel Smith retired in 2003, moving back to San Marcos, Texas where he lives with his wife Pamela and son Daniel. Daughter Amity lives in Auburn, Alabama (she stayed after graduating from Auburn — War Eagle!) and son Daniel has studied in Germany and is now a student at Texas State University in San Marcos.
For over twenty-six years, Gary has been inspired by the manner and styles of Dr. Michael Young and Dr. William Willimon, two of the best Story tellers in ministry. During graduate school Gary was introduced to this parabolic preaching, discovered his innate talents as a Story teller, and in 1980 he adopted his current method of writing sermons by weaving God’s Word into accounts of everyday life. Subscribers to his weekly e-Sermons embraced this refreshing approach and have finally encouraged Gary to release his first book, Letters from Boerdonk.
Gary presently serves as Senior Minister of a new church in San Marcos, Christ the Redeemer Church (CTRC). The church, which has no denominational affiliation, is a place where people from diverse backgrounds gather to celebrate the Love of Christ and to organize for community service. Weekly communion time at CTRC is called by many the ”Family Reunion”. Parishioners there enjoy Gary’s message weekly as their hearts and minds are bonded through humor, tears and God’s Word.